Transphorm could change the way our phones and tablets charge

December 18, 2013
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You don’t have to say it. Nobody says it, because everyone is experiencing it. Your smartphone and tablet batteries charge far too slowly. Part of the reason for that is the power lost in those annoyingly bulky power converters we get. Transphorm, a startup which has been around for about six years, could be changing all that soon.


Their aim is simple: convert power without energy loss. Power grids offer alternating currents, while our devices need a direct current. In converting the energy, we stand to lose up to 50% of our juice. The technology behind what Transphorm is doing is as simple as it is sublime, but hasn’t yet seen the light of day because of manufacturing woes.

Transphorm’s power converting tech uses gallium nitride, which we find in LEDs. An expensive process, the company says they’ve come across a way to produce it at a fraction of the traditional cost. This new thinking also gets us away from the silicon parts used in most chargers, like the one your cell phone or computer is plugged into now. In addition to quicker charges, it could end up saving lots of terawatt hours -- and money.

A few weeks ago, Transphorm quietly announced they’d taken a big step in solving the manufacturing issues by purchasing a unit of Fujitsu. The Japanese company had technology that rivaled Transphorm, and rather than race to the start line, they decided to come to an amicable solution. In the deal, Fujitsu became a shareholder in the company, and will handle the manufacturing process while Transphorm tries to get the word out about their technology.

VIA: Giga OM


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  • jnevill

    I really don’t have a solid understanding of electricity so forgive me if I sound stupid but… our devices generally need 5 volts and a certain amount of amperage, usually measured in milliamps. Despite the power loss (50% seems high) inherent in converting from AC to DC, the output is still 5v and whatever milliamps the device needs to charge. Converting power from AC to DC with less waste is noble and would save massive amounts of energy when multiplied across the billions of wall warts plugged in around the globe, but I don’t see how that would make our devices charge faster. The two problems don’t seem to be related.

    • BrianMN

      You are correct, a more efficient converter will not charge faster. Also, few converters use transformers anymore, most of them use “switcher” technology which is usually 70-90% efficient.